Now we’re past the autumn equinox and it’s officially autumn, I’m feeling a bit down. I must admit this is my least favourite time of year; the nights relentlessly draw in and things are closing down. Already leaves are starting to fall and there’s no getting out of it, winter is coming.
Still, even autumn has its compensations. The harvest continues, the reward for our efforts earlier in the year and we measure the successes and failures. Hopefully learning from both so one may grow and the other reduce.
Even those leaves falling from the trees are part of the harvest. We had a petrol powered leaf blower that also sucked and chopped leaves up but I sold it on and we replaced it with an electric version. I don’t get on with engines but a switch and an extension cable I can manage.
All I do is suck up the leaves and empty them into a large plastic compost bin I keep just for the leaves. They quickly sink down and after six months I’ve got leafmould to add to the ground. They’re low in nutrients but they add so much to the soil as humus.
We’ve still more tomatoes than we can possibly eat fresh. There’s a load processed and frozen to provide sauce bases in the freezer and Val’s now making tomato based soups which can be eaten as a meal or watered down to make a hot mug of soup for a cold day outside. My favourite is the tomato and lentil soup we’ve got on the site. I don’t know why a mug of soup is far more warming than a tea or coffee when there’s a nip in the air and ice on the puddles.
The redcurrants produced amazingly this year. A combination of the wonderful summer and netting off the blasted birds. It was really too hot to start making preserves in the summer so they just went into the freezer. Now it is cooler she’s been pulling out the currants and and making redcurrant jelly. It won the thumbs up award from the grandson who attempted to sneak a jar away. Left to him he’d eat his way through the lot if he was given the chance!
The last of the aubergines came in from the greenhouse. They love hot weather but they also hate the cold. Now the weather has changed they’re more likely to get moulds and botrytis so time to call it. We’ve a couple of mousakkas in the freezer along with Val’s hot aubergine chutney in the cupboard. We’ve had a dozen aubergine based dishes using them fresh over the season too. So, like the courgettes, it’s been lovely to have them but their season is over and it’s nice to move on.
We’ve still got cucumbers galore, not a vegetable that you can successfully store though. They’re a little seedy at this time of year – the plant knows the end is coming and wants to reproduce. Still, that seediness is a bonus as far as the chickens are concerned.
Just to recap, I started with four cucumber plants. Accidentally damaged the stem which killed one and realising how many we were getting from one plant, grubbed out the others. With proper pruning and a good cucumber feeding regime, along with a little luck, one plant is enough for 3 families!